Richard Gere is one of those actors who acquired the label of ‘heartthrob’ in his prime but has managed to reinvent himself in his august years. Whilst he was one of the most bankable male leads in his early career (Pretty Woman/Breathless/American Gigolo) he’s become a safe pair of hands in later life (Hachi: A Dog’s Tale/The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel/Arbitrage). In Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer, he gives one of his best performances yet.
Norman Oppenheimer (Gere) is an aging New York fixer, always looking for an angle and a way of making money. His only remaining play is exploiting his ties to the Big Apple’s Jewish community in order to make capital out of introductions. When he stumbles upon Israeli minister Micha Eshel (Lior Ashkenazi) who is visiting America, they strike up an unlikely friendship. Three years later, Eshel is prime minister of Israel and leading the peace negotiations. Norman uses this to his advantage, but discovers that friendship only goes so far.
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is worth seeing for Gere alone. He does a lot of his work here in silence, using body language and facing expressions to commute his increasing desperation and frustration. Steve Buscemi (as a Rabbi) and Michael Sheen provide great support, but the soundtrack is strangely jaunty and they can only do so much with the material they’re given by writer/director Joseph Cedar. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer relies on a strong central performance from Gere to pull through.
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is released on DVD by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on 16 October.